Monday, November 16, 2009

Red Rocks, Wellington

For the second part of our bus trip we were heading to Red Rocks on the South Coast if it was fine (or Te Papa if it wasn't). Amazingly, in the midst of the all the **** weather we have had recently, the weather seemed to behave itself 'sort of' so we could explore the coast!

First up we had a talk from a Forest and Bird Marine person who had come down on her Saturday to a place she is passionate about: a marine reserve was created just over a year ago on part of this coastline, and she explained how it had come about and the rationale for it.

This coastline is quite wild- Cook Strait has a confluence of various currents, and the wind is able to whip through the gap between North and South Islands.
As someone who grew up near the coast (Waitara) and who now lives 'inland' in New Zealand terms, I was glad to have the chance to be near the sea.
And even more so I revelled, as there was a chance to see the waves doing some wild things in the wind!
The bus driver told us we were lucky it was a northerly. We might have got windblasted at times as the afternoon moved on, but he said if it was southerly we would also have been drenched and cold!
I didn't walk as far as where the seals were reported to be: in the time we had I preferred just to make it to Red Rocks and then to spend some time watching the wild waves!

There was a Visitor's Centre where there were displays explaining various aspects of the reserve, including how the rocks in just a small section came to be red, when most of the surrounding rocks were grey sedimentary greywacke. It seems that in the midst of the sedimentary layers under the sea millions of years ago, there was an extrusion of volcanic basalt. So some of the rock ended up having iron included in it, and some of this has oxidised to red...
I asked this Brit tourist to pose, so you could see some of the red rocks are quite large. She offered to take my photo, but I am certain you would rather see her!!!
So that was my Saturday: thanks to Forest and Bird for all the organisation that made this trip possible. I found both places fascinating, and will make my way back to the Karori Wildlife Centre before long for sure!

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary- Zealandia

I had to set the alarm on Saturday morning earlier than usual..... had to be in town by 7.20am for the Forest and Bird bus trip down to Wellington. First off in the morning we were visiting the Karori Wildlife Centre, then it was going to be a walk to Red Rocks and maybe some seal viewing. For photo purposes I am breaking the day into two posts....

I first heard about the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary two years ago when I was studying a paper in NZ fauna. A "mainland island" has been created, with an extensive anti-predator fence, so that some species that have disappeared from this area might be able to live here again. It is a dream that has 500 years of restoration ahead.....
Here is the piece of the fence that you see as you enter the sanctuary. The fence disappears up a hill and you lose sight of it in the distance: this sanctuary really is quite vast.

There is a low level sealed track that has been made accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. After you have walked a little way, you come to another area where they have fenced it off so they can keep weka out while they establish a population of tuatara and also lizards. Just past this fence I had a lovely conversation with Erin, who was working nearby. She told me two places where I might see tuatara if they had come out, but it seemed it was a bit windy for them today.
The sanctuary is also interesting for its historical role in Wellington. There was a display that recalled old goldmining efforts that I had been completely unaware of happening in Wellington. And you could walk along the dam.

A swing bridge linked to some other trails across the valley. This sanctuary has been conceived on a grand scale!

I didn't try to take many bird photos- time was a bit short for my experimental efforts- but I did take my dslr out for these shots. I know I missed the tip of the duck's beak, but I was excited to see how much feather detail I could capture.
And I will just leave you with this kaka perched on a feeding station....